Decibels rise as Cong, BJP slug it out on coal issue

Last Updated: Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 20:16

New Delhi: Congress and BJP on Thursday sharpened their attack on each other on the coal block allocation giving a clear indication that the controversy over the issue is going to further escalate in coming days even after the Monsoon session of Parliament concludes tomorrow.

Stepping up the attack on the government and Congress, MPs of BJP-led NDA will hold a dharna in Parliament House tomorrow, the last day of Monsoon session, to protest against the refusal to cancel the licenses of coal blocks.

Congress has already announced a week-long nationwide campaign to counter the Opposition allegations.

Alleging that Congress is "defending the indefensible" in Coalgate, BJP posed seven questions on the reported anomalies insisting that each allotment has the "stamp of approval" by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"Congress is neck-deep involved in Coalgate.... They are defending the indefensible. They first deny the existence of any scam. Then they try to destroy the credibility of the Constitutional agency which brings out their corruption and after failing in this they resort to diversionary tactics," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.

Countering it, Union Minister Kapil Sibal said that the BJP`s questionairre is "false" and that the coal blocks were allocated on the recommendations of the state governments of coal bearing states, which was mostly ruled by the BJP.

Asking the BJP to "follow the Rajdharma of Atal Behari Vajpayee and not the Rajniti dharma", Sibal singled out Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley for his statement that there are occassions when obstructions in Parliament bring greater benefit to the country.

The Union Minister said the statement was an "affront to people" and "one of the most denigrating to Parliamentary democracy made in the last 60 years" that strikes at the very root of democracy.

Sibal charged that the obstructions the BJP caused in Parliament in this session was on the "basis of lies".

"Let the nation come first and the lust for power later," he told Jaitley adding that ten years back when Congress was in the Opposition, the BJP leader had remarked that it was totally unacceptable that "disturbances should become substitutes for discussions".

In response to Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh`s questions to the BJP, the opposition posed seven questions on the coal issue to corner the government.

"Is it not a fact that every allotment of the coal block carried a stamp of approval of Manmohan Singh as the Coal Minister? He was the coal minister during most of the period of these arbitrary allotments. How then the hierarchical subordinates are responsible and not the approving authority," Javadekar said.

Sibal, who was fielded by the party at the AICC briefing to counter Opposition charges against Government on the coal controversy, rejected BJP`s list of seven questions issued today as "false" saying they lack documentary evidence.

Releasing three sets of documents, he dismissed BJP`s argument that its Chief Ministers had finally agreed to the auction policy saying "by the time they came on board, 68 coal blocks were already allocated" under the existing policy.

Citing letters from BJP chief ministers of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the governments of Left in West Bengal and BJD in Orissa, the minister said that they favoured continuation of the existing policy and were opposed to the auction route.

Citing communications from chief ministers, Sibal said that coal blocks were allocated on the recommendations of some of them. "They selected (lessees), they wanted continuation of the policy, they opposed competitive bidding and now allegations are being levelled at us," he said.

Sibal at the same time said that the process of law will take its own course if in any individual specific allotment, anybody has wilfully misinformed.

He said 26 licenses have already been cancelled even before the CAG report came or BJP launched protests on the issue.

PTI




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